New centre to keep older drivers safe on the road

Summary

Jessa Hospital and UHasselt have opened a new centre to examine driving competence among senior citizens to keep them safely mobile for as long as possible

Speed, memory, focus

Jessa Hospital in Hasselt and the Institute for Mobility at Hasselt University have founded Samen Veilig Mobiel (Safely Mobile Together), a centre where elderly people can find out whether their physical and cognitive skills are still sufficient to let them safely drive a car.

The experts at the centre will first check whether people still meet the minimum medical standards to drive, which are set down in law. There is regulation concerning people’s sight and medication that entails risks when driving.

The specialists will examine people’s cognitive skills, judgement and driving performance during tests in a simulator. Participants will have to judge a situation at a roundabout, for example, and the specialists will also check reaction speed, memory, focus and knowledge of traffic rules.

Based on the results, they will then give confidential advice, which is not communicated to third parties such as insurance brokers. If there are issues, the centre will suggest training to deal with them. If the tests indicate that a person shouldn’t drive, the centre will check for alternatives to help them keep mobile.

“At an older age, mobility is essential for staying socially involved,” said professor Tom Brijs. “Losing your mobility often means losing your autonomy and zest for life.”

Photo courtesy Samen Veilig Mobiel